Go Behind the Scenes of the Apparel Design Business
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Go Behind the Scenes of the Apparel Design Business

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Clothing is exclusively a human characteristic. Anthropologists suggest that men and women have been wearing clothes since the last Ice Age. Before that, it was believed that humans used animal skins and vegetation to cover and protect their bodies from heat, cold, and rain. 

We have come a long way since then. Today, we have numerous types of apparel to suit the latest trends. We have T-shirts, sweaters, tights, spaghetti dresses, silk sarees, shrugs; the list is endless. But do you know the process to create fashion apparel

Many customers, designers, and people in the fashion industry are always intrigued about the apparel design and creation process. Developing apparel designs is a long and tedious task, right from the time you imagine a design and then put it down on paper to the production and delivery. 

Each design of any apparel starts with a design concept. This is followed by a rough sketch and a digital sketch. This is supported by a series of sketches, tech packs, patterns, fit sessions, fabric sourcing expeditions, production processes, and so on.

The apparel design process, in a nutshell, may seem basic but consists of many steps. These steps might overlap time and again, but then they are treated as separate stages. The basics to start with for any designer for apparel design is research and analysis, concept creation, and selection of fabric. After these, there are nine steps that are involved in apparel design. 

Here are the steps in apparel design:

1. Mood Board 

The designer will make a compilation of different inspirations into a mood board that will represent the idea and aesthetic behind the apparel design. Before making a final cohesive design, the designer has to first organize the ideas into a mood board. The designers collect ideas from various sources, like places and objects near them or through Pinterest, magazines, nature, or other platforms. They then compile the ideas taken for the apparel, silhouette, construction, color of the clothing they want. Once the mood board is created, they link the themes. Like putting the colors, textures and patterns together. Sometimes designers also create several mood boards and can save them for later if something doesn't work out.

2. Apparel sketches 

Apparel sketches

The designer will begin to sketch out different ideas for the apparel based on the mood board created. The designers do not try to fix anything yet but put their ideas down on paper. They try unique combinations, and you never know what design works! They then narrow down some final designs and draw conclusions. You can also attach a swatch or example of it if you have some specific fabric in mind. 

3. Technical Sketches

This work is mostly done by a technical team of illustrators or sometimes by the designer himself. The technical designer creates a CAD design of your apparel. These are accurate drawings of the garment. The CAD sketch is basically the blueprint of the apparel design, and that is why it is important that the sketch reflects the proper and right construction of the garment.

4. Tech Pack

This is also done by technical designers and the sourcing team. The CAD designs which are the technical sketches are used to create tech packs of your apparel. The technical designer will use the silhouette and design to determine the details of the construction. Then, the technical designer team works with the sourcing team to come up with different fabric options and trim options. Then, after finalizing, the tech pack is sent out to the factory to source the fabric for your apparel. 

5. Sourcing

The sourcing is carried out when the tech packs are finalized and sent to the factory. The designers have to source the manufacturing, trims, fabrics and labels, and packaging. Sometimes, you might find a full-service factory or supplier to do all these and sometimes you don't. But you can hire or consult an agent to help you with sourcing.

6. Sampling

After sourcing the factory and materials for your apparel design, the designers can update the Tech Pack to reflect the design and send it to the factory for sampling. The samples are made in separate rooms at the factory and then sent off to the production line only after the garment is ready for production. The factory where the Tech Packs have been sent will work to draw out an initial pattern. The factory will substitute a close match with the fabrics and trims that have been chosen. 

7. Fit and Review 

This is the responsibility of the development team and the technical designer. After your samples come in, the technical designer or the fashion designer has to review the samples and adjust them according to the tech pack. Fitting and reviewing samples goes through many stages until you finalize one prototype. 

8. Design and Approval

Apparel sketches

The design and approval is the responsibility of the development team. After the sampling process, the design is then approved. The designer will have to double-check all the details according to the tech pack to ensure that it is accurate. After the apparel design is approved, then it can be moved for production.

9. Production

The production is the responsibility of the factory or the manufacturer. Your apparel will hit the production line in the factories only once the design has been approved. The factory then agrees on the shipping date and it is then sent to the distributor. The packages are then inspected before they go to the retailer.

Designing apparel by its very nature is expressing your ideas, aesthetics and the spirit of the times. Therefore, it requires a rigorous process that all the fashion designers and people involved must go through. The fashion industry constantly changes, new trends come in, and designers are always expected to create new fashion statements and meet the public's demands. 


The nine steps explained above are the main procedures any designer has to follow, but there are many sub-steps. Some of these include the identification of the target markets and maintaining the identity of the brand. Each market has different expectations and requirements from the apparel design manufacturer, and all of the needs have to be satisfied in order to make the apparel design a success. 

Every fashion label has a specific idea and aesthetic that they want maintained. They must also ensure that production is cost-effective, so that prices do not exceed their customer expectations.

The apparel design process is tremendous. It calls for a lot of time and patience, preparation, adjustments, changes, and a dedicated team. Many designers and fashion brands find it very tedious to manage this entire process. If you are one of them, reach out to Fashinza. We work with leading apparel manufacturers and suppliers to produce a range of fashion items. We manage the entire process, from design to delivery, so that you can focus on other aspects of the business. Get in touch with us today, to find out more. 


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